If you're looking to have a close encounter with the third kind, you might be best off doing it on the Fourth of July.
According to an op-ed in the Syracuse Times by "UFO Sightings Desk Reference" co-author Cheryl Costa, the most popular day of the year for UFO sightings is Independence Day. It's unclear if this has any relation to the popular sci-fi movie of the same name, but Costa suggested it may be due to more people being outside, looking at fireworks.
"Some say the reason is because many people misidentify July 4 fireworks for UFOs," Costa wrote in the op-ed. "The other case is that there are lots of people with leisure time, outside in the dark waiting for the fireworks displays. Lastly, and I hear this frequently, the UFOs seem to like the fireworks and tend to loiter near significant displays."
According to her data, July 4 represents 2.11 percent of the 121,000 UFO sightings from 2001 through 2015, more than any other specific date in the calendar.
States that have the top reported July 4 UFO sightings include California, Florida and Texas at the top, with Washington, Pennsylvania, New York, Arizona, Illinois, Michigan and Ohio rounding out the list. Costa noted that these ten states "account for more than 52 percent of the nation’s UFO reports."
Though Costa offered some possible explanations for why July 4 seems to have so many reported sightings of UFOs, she cannot explain the other dates in the top 15. These include New Year's Eve, New Year's Day, July 3, July 5 (which could be loosely tied to the aforementioned phenomena of people having parties or being outdoors), but dates such as June 15, July 15, Aug. 15, Sept. 15 and October 15 appear to have no plausible explanation.
On a weekly basis, Costa said that UFO sightings tend to pick up on Friday, with the peak being Saturday nights. Monday through Thursdays are roughly flat, according to her data.
Costa offered several reasons for the peak-Saturday conclusion, including more people outside driving at this time. Other possible causes include people going outside to walk their dogs or to smoke.
Temperature, weather and leisure time also played a part in Saturday nights being the most prevalent for UFO sightings.
"Since most people generally have Saturday nights off, add good weather to the mix, and you get UFO sighting reports," Costa wrote.
Follow Chris Ciaccia on Twitter @Chris_Ciaccia